Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

Breastfeeding

What can interfere with breastfeeding?

  • pacifiers and artificial nipples
  • supplementing with anything other than breastmilk
  • free samples of formula

Did you know?

  • Your baby doesn’t need to wear a hat after they are born if you have them skin-to-skin.
  • Your body keeps your baby warm
  • Believe it or not, the smell of your baby’s head helps with bonding and postpartum recovery.

Breastfeeding is natural. Getting off to a good start with breastfeeding helps to ensure it is a good experience for you and your baby.

Keep your baby skin-to-skin and breastfeed as soon as possible after your baby is born. Babies need to eat frequently and this helps to establish your milk supply. It's best not to delay or restrict the length of feedings. Follow your baby’s feeding cues and ensure your baby has a good latch onto the breast.

During labour and birth

Commonly used medical procedures (interventions) during labour and birth, like inducing labour, epidurals, and caesarean section (C-section) can affect the initiation of breastfeeding and bonding with your baby. In addition, having one birth intervention often leads to additional interventions (sometimes referred to as the “cascade of interventions”).

Before you go into labour, discuss your thoughts and feelings about pain management and medical procedures with your health care provider. Medical procedures and medications can impact the health of you and your baby. They can cause unexpected side effects that may lead to further interventions. It’s important to learn about them in order to make an informed decision.

Following the Pathway to a Healthy Birth can help prevent the need for interventions and reduce their impact.

Learn more about healthy birth practices.

Skin-to-skin

Being skin-to-skin means your baby is naked (except for a diaper), lying upright on your bare chest. A blanket can be placed over both of you for added warmth. Being placed skin-to-skin with mom immediately after birth – a warm and cozy spot for your baby – can help your newborn recover from the shock of birth.

  • Your baby can be placed skin-to-skin on your chest with easy access to the breast immediately after birth.
  • They can stay skin-to-skin on your chest for the first two hours after they are born.

Babies who are left on their mother’s chest will usually find the breast and latch onto the nipple on their own within the first hour after birth. This is called the “breast crawl”. Many babies have a harder time with this if you have medical interventions during labour and birth. If this happens, your baby may need some help finding the breast.

To learn more:

Watch the following YouTube videos:

Skin-to-skin helps your baby:

  • adapt to their new environment;
  • stay warm and calm;
  • feel safe and secure;
  • regulate their breathing, heart rate, and blood sugar;
  • have a good latch onto the breast; and
  • make healthy brain connections.

Skin-to-skin helps mothers:

  • feel more relaxed;
  • bond with baby;
  • feel confident;
  • establish milk supply and flow; and
  • breastfeed for a longer duration.

What you can do to make skin-to-skin happen:

  • Discuss your plan with your partner, family and other birth support people.
  • Make your healthcare provider aware that you want to have your baby skin-to-skin right after birth and as much as possible after that.
  • Newborn assessments can be done while your baby is on your chest. Sometimes there is a need for medical interventions that mean baby can’t be on your chest, but this is rare.
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